Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's Easy. It's Snow White

With the voting for Horse of the Year upon us, I thought I would chime in with my two cents.

I think 2007 was one of the best years in recent memory to watch harness racing. We truly had some super horses to watch. The short list for HOY candidates is outstanding: Deweycheatumnhowe, Snow White, Donato Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere all provided us with thrills and dazzling performances. It is rare to see such quality horseflesh in several divisions nowadays.

We often see 2YO colt trotters go undefeated or near it, like Donato, Tom Ridge, Cantab Hall, or even this years other 2YO trotting force, Lear Jetta. They seem to be simply more mature than their counterparts and can toy with some fields. Dewey fits that mold. He won with authority, but not eye-popping authority making me think he is an all-time great. I like him and loved watching him, but he didn’t give me chills.

Somebeach might be another story. He crushed his competition unlike any 2YO pacer of recent memory. In the Metro final he scorched to the half in 54.2 and the three quarters in 121.4, in a display of speed rarely seen. He came home strongly and demolished quality animals like Moon Beam and our 2YO Breeders Crown champion Santanna Blue Chip. HOY should be reserved for greatness, and he fits that mold. If you believe that Mohawk is close to a second slower than a rock-hard Woodbine surface, he might have gone 48 and change and been close to setting an all-age track record at the Toronto speedway. This doesn’t happen every day. He is an amazing animal and worthy of getting the nod in Canada.

Now for the battle in the US: Snow White versus Donato Hanover.

Donato had a great season. He was 11 for 13 and he made a whopping $2.35M. He started off the year looking good, but perhaps not great, and some were left wondering if he could dust competition like a great horse should. He delivered. The Canadian Trotting Classic elim was a thing of beauty. His world record in the Futurity was dominating. Late in the year, however, he faltered and lost twice to Arch Madness. His 13 starts were fairly light in terms of historical trips to the gate for a 3YO trotter. Glidemaster and Majestic Son last year for example raced more. Overall a very, very good year.

As for Snow White, what can you say? She might be the greatest trotter – not filly trotter, not two year old trotter – but trotter that has ever graced the track. She accomplished in 13 starts what many horses can only hope to accomplish in a lifetime. In her 11 wins, she won by a combined 60 lengths. She set a 152.4 record in Lexington, and she did it by ten, with a three wide move under a death grip. She came her last three panels in 123.3. To borrow a phrase, all year she moved like a "tremendous machine”. We are not judging a 2YO like Tom Ridge, or Donato, or others who dominated. This filly is out of their league in terms of 2YO performance, in my opinion.

On Breeders Crown night, she came to play yet again. She trotted in 155.1 off a 57.1 half. The very next race, Deweycheatumnhowe trotted 157.2 off of the exact same half. How many times do we see a 2YO trotting filly race go two seconds faster than the colts? Later on that evening, we saw Pampered Princess and Southwind Serena battle in a 155.2 clocking, or one length slower than Snow White’s mile. It is not unreasonable to assume that she would have won, or been close in the 3YO trotting filly division! Remarkable! That would be tantamount to Donato Hanover, last year, beating Glidemaster and Majestic Son as a 2YO.

She is simply one of the greatest horses I have ever seen. Great horses have the ability to break down walls, like beating older horses, or the “stronger” sex. Very few have, or ever will do that.

So it comes down to a simple question, and to me it is not unlike a couple of years ago when the choice was between Windsong’s Legacy and Rainbow Blue. Legacy had won the Triple Crown and set a single season earnings mark. Rainbow Blue was well, Rainbow Blue. Looking back the choice was an easy one. That is, greatness versus a great trotter who had a great year. Greatness trumps all. I am sure people are glad they voted for Rainbow Blue, because she will be remembered as one of the greatest fillies of all time. I hope voters do the same thing this year.

Trotting Greatness

If that doesn't give you chills, check your pulse, because you probably ain't breathing.

Snow White is your Horse of the Year.

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